CO2 2022/2021 420.51 ppm / 418.41 ppm
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Michigan has a climate plan! Last week, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration released its plan to achieve carbon neutrality in Michigan by 2050, pushing for 60 percent renewable energy by 2030 and infrastructure and incentives for electric vehicles. Whitmer pitched the plan as a way to create jobs, drive economic development, safeguard public health and protect the environment. It would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent by 2025 and 52 percent by 2030, roughly aligning the state with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) target of a 45% reduction by 2030. The Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice (MAC-EJ) issued a statement praising some aspects of the plan, like its emphasis on keeping energy burdens below 6% for households in low-income communities. Still, it said more is needed on climate-change adaptation for marginalized communities already dealing with disproportionate impacts from heat and flooding. MAC-EJ also called for a ban on new fossil fuel power generation and support for community-owned, distributed power generation like community solar in low-income areas and communities of color. (MLive)
Coal no more: Consumers Energy will phase out coal use by 2025 and add 8,000 megawatts of solar power by 2040, as part of a proposed settlement with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office and other stakeholders. The utility also plans to build 75 megawatts of battery storage by 2027 and 550 megawatts by 2040. However, the company plans to purchase additional natural gas generating facilities and keep two gas and fuel oil units at the D.E. Karn Generating Complex near Bay City online, which it had previously planned to shut down. Consumers has also agreed to provide millions of dollars in financial assistance to low-income rate-payers. (MLive, MI Radio)
Nuclear quandary: Whitmer is asking for federal intervention to keep the Palisades nuclear plant open, a controversial move that could help the state meet its climate goals but raises fears about events like the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. Michigan could get help from the Biden administration’s recently announced $6 billion effort to keep nuclear plants open to fight climate change. Still, the state would need to clear numerous hurdles to keep the west Michigan plant from closing, including finding someone to buy it. The Michigan Environmental Council expressed support for keeping the plant open, saying it would buy time while the state builds out wind and solar power. Nuclear energy produces no direct greenhouse gas emissions, although the nation still lacks a long-term plan to store spent fuel. (Bridge, AP, WaPo)
‘World’s largest batteries’: Michigan’s increasing reliance on renewable energy will require more storage, and a Ludington facility offers an alternative to conventional batteries. The Ludington Pumped Storage Plant sequesters water in an elevated reservoir pumped from a lower one and then sends it downhill to large turbines when power is needed. Called the “world’s largest batteries” by some, the system could use excess wind and solar energy when weather conditions allow and then send energy back onto the grid when the sun isn’t shining, and the wind isn’t blowing. So why not just build more of these things? Representatives from the utility industry say the regulatory process for new pumped storage facilities is complicated and want tax breaks to construct more of them. Environmentalists haven’t always liked these facilities because they may draw water from rivers. Also, rotting vegetation in reservoirs can emit large amounts of methane. Yet, new water storage options are emerging, like a technique that pumps water underground and then later releases it under pressure to drive turbines. (Detroit News, Guardian, New Yorker)
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Extractive technologies: Companies are sucking piping hot brine out of the ground beneath the California desert and turning it into lithium or “white gold” for use in electric car batteries in Detroit and elsewhere. Although the region could become a significant supplier of U.S. battery production and potentially produce geothermal energy, it’s unclear if the technology is scalable. Yet, with the growth of the EV sector and more utilities building battery storage, the price of lithium has increased exponentially, driving interest in California’s supply. The Biden administration is also interested because it could help create independence from China, which currently controls much of the world’s lithium processing. Proponents of this process say it has a smaller environmental footprint than current production methods, but its impacts haven’t been studied extensively. (Detroit News)
Climate change, considered: For the first time, a Michigan environmental agency will consider greenhouse gas emissions as part of its Michigan Environmental Protection Act (MEPA) analysis. The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), which regulates utilities, will consider climate change impacts as it evaluates Enbridge Energy’s proposal to build a tunnel for its Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. However, the MPSC denied a request to reconsider whether there is an actual need for the pipeline. “This is an important win for everyone who cares about the climate crisis,” said Kate Madigan, director of the Michigan Climate Action Network.” “We applaud the Commissioners for including evidence of climate change in their review of the proposed oil tunnel. In this time of climate emergency, leaders must consider climate change in all decisions–especially in building pipelines that would carry millions of gallons of oil every day for up to 99 years.” (Michigan Advance)
DON'T MISS THIS WEEK'S CLIMATE FEATURES:
SOLUTIONS: Michigan cities, state step up planning efforts to combat climate change
According to a Michigan Climate Action Network report, more than a dozen cities and townships across the state have set carbon neutrality and renewable energy goals. Read more>>>
Policy Tracker: Bottle deposits, DTE shutoffs, solar caps
Two “bottle bills” currently under discussion in the Michigan Senate, HB 4443 and HB 4444, would provide tax breaks for beverage wholesalers and divert some of the money from unclaimed deposits away from contaminated site cleanup. Read more>>>
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